This coastal vet traveled to the mountains and “the Plains” for vacation at the end of March.  While, I do love spending my time off with family at the beach, this trip away from sea level was beautiful in its own right.

The our trip began with a stop at my childhood home to have a send off party for my mom with family and friends.  The weather was perfect for a BBQ outside and enjoying each other’s company.  There were many tear-filled goodbyes and well wishes for my mom, as she was getting ready to set off on her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT).

The next three days we spent in Dahlonega, GA.  This is one of the closest towns near the start of the AT.  It is also where my husband visited often as a child since he grew up in northern GA and his sister went to college there.  We checked into our cabin and explored the camp it’s located in. We had dinner at a Cajun restaurant the first night: Okay jambalaya (we were spoiled by living in Houston, TX for 4 years), good burgers and decent craft beer list.

The next day we got up early with our daughter and helped my mom finish getting her gear packed.  We found a Chick-Fil-A and got my mom a chicken sandwich meal as her send off lunch.  Then off to pick up her AT thru-hike tag and take some pics at Amicalola Falls.  We drove up the long gravel forest service road to the Springer Mountain parking lot.  From here it’s nearly a mile hike south to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  We set off together with my mom to hike her first mile.

Carrying my daughter most of the way in the baby wearer, my heart was pounding and hands were sweaty.  Mostly from hiking with the extra 23 pounds, but also from the nerves.  I knew I would be watching my mom walk into the wilderness and away from us for six months.  Our daughter gave her Grandma one of the best hugs and said goodbye with a kiss and wave.  The tears started.  My husband hugged her goodbye, then it was my turn.

So many emotions from us both. We didn’t want to let go, but knew we had to, it was getting late.  She hiked off waving goodbye. Her teal pack with her orange Clemson hat, was quickly swallowed up in the trees.  She was gone. We loaded up and drove down the long gravel road back towards town.  We had pizza for dinner that night at Gustavo’s Pizzeria, great pizza and better craft beer selection than the night before. We went to bed full and exhausted.

We woke up early to enjoy our cabin and beautiful waterfall that was just steps from our front door. After lunch at a great cafe (Picnic Cafe and Dessertery), we drove up to Woody Gap and hiked to Preacher’s Rock.   Our daughter had her little backpack and Daisy Duck along for the hike. She quickly grew tired of walking and was fast asleep in the Lillébaby baby-wearer in no time. We made the trek up following the white blazes 1 mile to the summit. The views were amazing!  As we hiked back down passing thru-hikers with their large packs, we were both hoping to run into my mom.  But knew she likely didn’t make it that far in a day.  We hiked a little south on the AT just to let our daughter get a good long nap before getting back in the car to head to town.

We had A good dinner at the Pueblo’s Mexican restaurant, much needed calories after the afternoon’s strenuous hike.  We got back to the cabin a little early and explored some more with our daughter before bedtime.  We packed up and were ready for our next stop. After three days in the mountains we headed to Auburn, Alabama.

Continued in my next post…

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